Food & Drinks

Diani’s Ali Barbour’s cave lives up to hype


Ali Barbour's Cave Restaurant. PHOTO | COURTSEY

You can’t eat chicken here!” She whispered with a disapproving glare over her menu. Why not? I asked defensively. “Well, because you are in Diani and you are here in this nice restaurant. Order some seafood and have your chicken when we go back to Nairobi!” But I don’t want seafood, I whined.

The waitress pretending not to listen to this exchange looked away. Ali Barbour is raved about as the seafood mecca and much-lauded by the cool kids online for its famous ambience and seafood. I agree, the ambience was arresting.

We were 10 metres under the ground and the ceiling above us gaped open to reveal a beautiful starry night. Inside looked like a charming cave inhabited by a wealthy Arab.

It was only unfortunate that I don’t care for seafood - and food generally. I think people give food too much attention. I once saw a grilled barracuda in a hotel buffet; it looked like something that could bite off my face. I don’t like the work that goes into eating lobsters either.

And I don’t like the word ‘crab’ - it doesn’t sound like something I’d enjoy eating. Calamari is like chewing an old tyre. And don’t get me started on oysters.

I will have the lemon chicken francese, please, I told the waitress then turned to my date and asked, “what’s a francese?” She pretended not to have heard me. She was mad that we weren’t both going to match our plates with seafood.

Oh well. I sipped my whisky. Whisky takes me as I am. I heard her order something called the Tagliatele Seafood Barbour style. You should see her ordering seafood, like she’s giving a prescription to a very ill patient over the phone.

When her food came it was a mix of all those things I have mentioned above except a barracuda which was a relief because barracuda’s scare me. I wouldn't have eaten my chicken with it staring at me with its sinister eyes. She enjoyed her food so much I wondered perhaps if I should have tried a piece of catch of the day, which sounds safe.